If you’re planning a trip to the Destin area, you are probably keeping a close eye on the weather. No one chooses to come on a vacation and get rained into their hotel room or rental property. It’s hard to plan around the weather though. Florida gets its share of rain and more than its share of summer pop-up storms, particularly in the afternoon. Many of them appear quickly and disappear almost as quickly. They’re like a sunshine sandwich with rain, thunder and lightning in between.
What you need to know about these afternoon storms is to get inside and be patient. Use that lull to have lunch, put the kids down for a nap or do some shopping. Don’t wait it out, however, on the beach or the boat. Neither are safe places to be when lightning is within as much as 10 miles. The weather service advises, “If it roars, head indoors,” meaning that if you hear thunder, play it safe and get out of the storm.
Tropical weather, including depressions, storms and hurricanes, usually do come with a strong advanced warning system, though. Forecasters can identify tropical storms days, even weeks, ahead of their arrival in a coastal area. Those forecasts may not be as precise as travelers would like. Meteorologists can rarely identify which areas will be the most impacted with any certainty until the disturbance is within a few days of landfall. Nor can they predict how intense the impacts will be in a particular coastal area.
Coastal folks all have stories of hurricanes that were supposed to come on shore near them and missed, as well as storms that were not predicted to affect them but did.
So, what should you do?
When you’re booking a trip to the area, find out what, if any, weather-related cancellations are allowed or refunded.
Consider buying trip insurance to cover yourself should you get stormed out of a long-awaited holiday.
Follow the forecasts. The National Hurricane Center and Tropical Weather Underground both provided free access to their sites, which include updated forecast information if the tropics are active.
If you’re already here, make sure you’re signed up for alerts from local government officials. These officials are closely monitoring local impacts and if they tell you to head home, follow their advice. It may take you a lot longer to get out of town than to get into it, so plan accordingly. Lots of vehicles head north when a storm or hurricane threatens the area.
If you end up riding out the storm, local emergency agencies can provide a full list of supplies you may need. Power outages are common and roads can be inaccessible, sometimes for extended periods of time after a severe storm.
Look at the waves but don’t go in the Gulf when it’s churned up before, during or after a storm. Double red flags will fly in this event, warning you the water is closed. Heed those warnings or risk being cited by beach patrols, or far worse, getting into trouble in very dangerous surf conditions.
Consider the following indoor attractions, most of which remain open unless the weather is particularly severe.
- Bowling alleys
- Laser Tag
- Emerald Coast Science Center
- Destin Fishing Museum
- Silver Sands Outlet Mall
- Magic Show at HarborWalk Theater
- Eden State Gardens mansion tours
- Dining at one of the fabulous local restaurants
- Hatchet throwing
- Movie theaters
- Trampoline Parks
- Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center